[Ancient History] State Formation and Urbanization - From Mahajanapadas to the Nandas (BC 600 to BC 321)

Economic Background :

• After AD 800 iron came to be used widely in almost all the areas in India. But till AD
600 it was only used for making weapons.

• Only after AD 600 iron came to be used in making agricultural and other tools.

• This period also witnessed a great increase in the number of settlements in the Ganga-Yamuna Doab region.

• Iron’s use in agriculture resulted in the great expansion of agrarian landscape.

• The use of iron ploughshare facilitated agricultural operations in a big way.

• Wet cultivation and the technique of paddy transplantation (ropana), increased the productivity.

• The increased food production could now sustain the increasing population in the middle Ganga plain.




• The increase in population is evidenced by increase in number of settlements.

• The PGW cultural sites, generally associated with the prolific use of iron, are found in greater numbers (700) in the doab area as compared with the more westerly (Haryana and Punjab) region.

• The story of Videgha Mathava and his priest Gotama Rahugana contained in the Shatapata Brahmana suggest an eastward movement of people from the sarasvati valley, establishing settlemens, clearing forests, and cultivating freshly cleared land.

• Archeologically speaking, with the sixth century BC begins Northern Black Polished Ware (NBPW) phase distinguished by iron objects for purpose of both war and production, and punch marked coins and commodity exchange. The geographical area in which all these developments took place covers the middle gangetic plain extending upto upper gangetic plain in west and malwa in the south-west.

• Nearly 450 NBPW sites found in the middle gangetic plain were basically rural settlements in the age of Buddha. A number of these sites originated during the chalcolithic phase and continued to exist.

• The Pali texts generally assigned to the period 500-300 BC are: nikayas, suttanipata and portions of vinaya pitaka. These texts should be considered in conjunction with the Ashtadhyayi of Panini which is placed between 500 BC and 400 BC.

• Many grihyasutras and Dharmasutras, particularly those of Apastamba, are considered contemporary with panini.

• The shrautsutras also belong to pre-mauryan times.

• The above mentioned texts and the NBPW archaeology form the main basis for the consturcion of the history of India from 600 BC to 300 BC.

• The early Pali texts refer to the use of iron for purposes of cultivation.

• Ayanagala (iron ploughshare), phala (share), ayokuta (hammer), ayoghana (hammer) etc are mentioned in early Pali texts.

• Ayoghana and ayovikara kushi (iron ploughshare) also appear in Panini’s ashtadhyayi.

• Sugarcane, mustard, paddy seedlings all need deep and continuous ploughings which could done with the use of iron implements only.

• Iron implements have been excavated at Atranjikhera, Ropar, Jakhera, Kaushambi, Sonpur (Gaya), Raghuasoi (Vaishali), Rajghat (Varanasi) etc.

• However, the number of iron tools and implements is not very large which due to two factors> 

1. The moist nature of the soil.
2. Lack of excavations of the rural settlements.

• By 500 BC the people of middle gangetic plain had come to utilize the rich iron mines of singhbhum.

• The terms such as bhastra (panini) and bhasta (pali texts) suggest that bellows made of leather were in use in the age of the Buddha.

• The use of punchmarked silver coins, as early as 500 BC, and the construction of large-scale wooden structures also demonstrate the use of iron tools such as kuthari (chisels), vasi (adzes) and aragga (saw).

• Another factor that revolutionized the yield of foodgrains was the beginning of paddy transplantation since about 500 BC. The terms used for the process of transplantation was ropana and ropeti.

• The vedic vrihi was a rainy season crop grown without transplanting whereas Sali was a winter crop grown by means of transplantation. In pali texts this process is known as bijani patittapeti.

• A prakrit phrase ukkhaya-nihae or ukkhaaya-nihae in jnatadharmakatha has the meaning ‘uprooted and planted’.

• Among other crops, we have evidence of barley and wheat (godhuma), which were the principal crops.

• Barley, rice and sesamum were considered the purest cereals for sacrificial and ceremonial purposes. Mustard and various types of lentis were known to the people.

• Agricultural operations had become quite elaborate.

• Fields were divided according to their productivity.

• Irrigation was widely practiced and the practice of keeping the land fallow was known.

• People came to have an agricultural calendar based on six seasons and 27 nakshatras.

• Some new plants and fruit trees were utilized such as mango, shala, jambu, madhuka and palasa.

• Another feature of the sixth century BC is the profuse use of the deluxe ware called NBPW. In total, 584 sites with NBPW have been discovered.

• It has been suggested that the spread of NBPW in eastern UP and bihar indicated a spurt in agrarian settlements in the sixth century BC.

• The users of this deluxe pottery were the people who dominated the economic and social life of the period.

• Most of the sixteen great janapadas had a material background associated with the NBPW culture.

• The literary and archaeological material indicated the advent of cities in the middle gangetic plain around the sixth century BC. This is also a period which witnessed the beginning of the written tradition in India.

• The people in towns of this period lived in wooden houses. Pataliputra, rajghat etc. have shown massive use of wood in construction of structures such as houses, defences or fortifications etc.
• people in middle gangetic plain lived in mud houses.

• A large embankment of aroung 500 BC has been unearthed at Rajghat. Vaisali has a mud stupa.

• The early NBPW phase does not show any evidence of brick – fire baked or sun dried. However, in subsequent phases baked-bricks were used for housing in some larger settlements.

• Cities of this time were never planned, which was the hallmark of Indus urbanism. Contrary to this, the literary sources always talk about planned layouts of the cities. This feature came into vogue only around second century BC.

• Another feature that appeared around 500 BC is the use of coins. These early coins were made of silver and copper and later known as punch-marked coins. Various kinds of symbols were punched on one side and were probably issued by the merchants.

• This development had many effects on the contemporary life: 

1. They helped in the development of organized commerce and facilitated the exchange system.
2. It improved the means of tax collection.
3. It helped in making the savings easy.
4. It led to the emergence of a specialized class of money-lenders and money-investors (setti-gahapati).

• The coin of highest value was satamana of silver followed by karsapana.

• The copper masas and kakini were coins of smaller denominations.

• The punching devices of these early coins bear no inscriptions.

• Instead they various forms of hills, trees, birds, animals, reptiles, human figures, floral and geometrical patterns, religious symbols etc.

• These symbols appear only one side, the other side remaining blank.

• It is believed that some of these marks were of the shroffs, bankers or money-testers (rupa-tarka or rupadarshaka).
• The early silver punch-marked coins have been found in quite larger numbers.

• The earliest of them are locality specific and were issued by janapadas and mahajanapadas, such as surasena (mathura region), Uttara Panchala (Rohilkhand region), dakshina panchal (doab area from ganga to chambal), vatsa kunala (gonad-bahraich region), kosala (gomati, sai and sadanira region), kashi, malla (deoria), maghadha, vanga, kalinga, Andhra, asmaka, mulaka, avanti, surashtra and gandhara.

• The coins of each of these janapadas differ from one another in their execution, fabric, weight, quality of metal and symbology.

• The coins of magadha belong to two periods: 

1. The coins issued during the early period.
2. The coins issued during the period of imperial expansion and are found all over the coutry.

• The imperial coins are of a uniform weight standard, i.e. 54 grains.

• The issue of the silver punch-marked coins stopped some time in the second century BC, but they continued to be in circulation till the rise of the guptas.

• Terracotta casting moulds for making the punch-marked coins have been found at mathura, jhusi, sisupalagarh and kondapur (AP).

• A bronze matrix with the impression of punchmarked coins has come to light from Eran (MP).

• Almost all the early punchmarked coins are of silver.

• Copper came to be used for making coins most likely in time of the mauryas, as kautilya refers to them.

• Copper punch-marked coins are rare and were most likely locally, issued in the post-mauryan period.

• Such coins have been found in magadha-anga, ujjain-vidisha, mathura and mewar regions.

• A2 Arthashastra, silver coins of four denominations viz., pana, ardha-pana, pada (1/4) and ardhapadika (1/8) were being issued from the mints of the mauryan emperors.

• Even though coins came to be used on a considerable scale, the process of manufacture was no where recorded till the Arthashastra referred to the counterfeiters of coins (kuta-rupakaraka) and the actual process.

The Urbanization :

• In contemporary literature words such as pura, pattana, nigama, nagar, mahanagar, durga etc were used to denote an urban settlement.

• In connection with the begging round of a monk the jain canonical texts mention different kinds of urban settlements such as scot-free town, a town with an earthen wall, a town with a small wall, an isolated town, a large town, a sea-town, and a capital.

• A2 one estimate, taking the country as a whole spreading the country from champa in the east to bhrigukachchha in the west, from kaveripattana in the south to kapilavastu in the north, there were 60 well-known towns.

• Big cities such as shravasti were 20 in number and 6 of them were considered sufficiently important to be the scene of the Buddha’s passing away. They were: 

1. champa
2. rajagriha
3. saketa
4. kaushambi
5. banaras
6. kushinara

• the city was demarcated in the literature by its size.

• The marked areas or nigamas in the larger cities were located at the main gateways.

• The material remains discovered at various urban sites show that there was an increased production of various goods such as NBPW deluxe pottery, terracotta animal figurines and other objects of games and amusements, objects of bone and ivory, coins and stone and glass objects, beads, copper and iron objects.

• Brick building, carpentry and wood working, stone industry, garland making and several other craft industries such as wall masons, bow and arrow makers, comb-makers, basket makers, perfumers, oil pressures and musical instrument makers etc were popular.

• Traders probably visited places like Babylon and shoresighting birds were employed to facilitate navigation.
• Archaeological evidence show that glass trade existed between taxila and shravasti. Other items of trade included silk, muslin, armour, perfumes, ivory, jewellery etc.

• The trade was carried on mainly by roads and river routes.

• Very often the traders undertook voyages to burma and sri lanka from tamralipti in the east and from bhrigukachchha in the west.

• Shravasti was connected with pratisthana and rajagriha by two separate routes.

• Shravasti was connected with taxila through a route which ran along the base of the Himalayas.

• Some of the major routes may originally have been forged through marriage alliances such as in the marriage between gandhari and dhritarashtra, kaikeyi and dasharatha etc. the janapadas to which they belonged – gandhara, kuru, kekeya and koshala – were linked along the northern route, the uttarapatha.

• The dakshinapatha going through ujjain southwards branched off af the narmada and continued to pratisthana, linking the ganga valley with the west coast.

Society :

• The urbanization, trade, commodity production and the use of coined money show that a large number of changes taking place in the realm of society.

• One of the major manifestation of these changes was the growth of many heterodox sects such as Jainism, Buddhism, ajivikism etc.

• Sometime around fourth century AD people had aquired the knowledge of writing, the earliest script being brahmi.

• Societies in these areas were characterized by a demarcation into two broad groups: owners of land and the workers.

• This made the shudra varna redundant since the dasakarmakara was performing the function of shudra.

• Since the ritual status or varna is not given priority in these societies, it is the jati system which became the social reality.

• This jati initially referred only to ‘birth’ which could be either high (ukkuttha, uchcha), or (hina, nichcha).

• The brahmanas who grew very wealthy were known as mahashala.
• Eventhough some of the dharmasutras forbade brahmanas to take up living by cattle domestication, agriculture and service, the mahashala brahmanas did practice these professions. When the Buddha addresses such brahmanas he referred to them as gahapatis.

• In Buddhist sources the vaishya varna is substituted with the category of gahapatis which, A2 Romila Thapar, “points to the final disintegration of the original vish”.

• Gahapathi literally means the master of the household. But, A2 Uma Chakravarti, the grihapati or gahapati of the pali texts was not merely the head of the household but the “head of the household as a production unit”.

• During the period of Buddha, the gahapathis were regarded as important tax-payers.

• The subsistence-farmers are described as kassakas in the Buddhist texts.

• Rich traders evolved out of the class of these rich landowners called gahapathis.

• The trading men were generally known as setthi-gahapati. Anathapindika, who donated the
• Jetavana in shravasti to Buddha, was one such setthi.

• Associated with the status of the gahapathi were the kutumbika and the gamini.

• The kutumbika was again the head of a family and a man of property. Apart from land the kutumbika was also associated with commerce and industry.

• In the contemporary literature, we have evidence of many small scale industries as well:

• Shopkeepers – papanika

• Retailers – krayavikrayika

• Pedlars – vanija

• Carpenters, ivory carvers, garland makers and smiths were such groups.

• All these workers organized themselves into guilds, and came to be commonly referred to as shreni and the puga.

• If a particular guild prospered, it employed assistants (antevasika) and dasa-bhritaka.

• This ultimately resulted in the transformation of a guild into a jati. And all these occupational jatis were allotted a shudra status in the traditional varna hierarchy.

• Shudras constituted the serving class was only implied in the later vedic texts.
• During this period the dharmasutras made the explicit and emphatic statement that the duty of the sudra was to serve the three higher varnas, and thus maintain himself.

• Gautama prescribes that the shudra could live by practicing mechanical arts.

• Sections of shudra varna worked as weavers, wood-workers, smiths, leather-workers, potters, painters etc.

• There is a strong possibility that some of the well-to-do shudra artisans, such as the smith Chunda, who served dinner to Buddha and his followers and the rich potter Saddalaputta who possessed five hundred potter’s shops and had a large number of potters working under him, were gahapatis.

• This may also be true of the head of the village of a thousand smiths, who gave his daughter in marriage to the bodhisattva.

• Some of the sudra artisans were attached to the household of the king, such as royal barber (raja-napita), royal potter (raja-kuluka or raja-kumbhakara), and royal garland maker (raja-malakara).

• A setthi employed his own tailer (lunnakara) and a gahapati had a number of weavers (tantuvayehi).

• Othe artisans living in villages were known as gramashilpins.

• A2 Panini, there were two kinds of carpenters, the gramataksha who worked for daily wages at the home of his clients in the village and the kautataksha who worked at his own residence.

• Another class of subjugated population was that of the slaves.

• The character of slavery, which first appeared in Vedic times, was modified in the age of the Buddha.

• Vedic slavery was mostly confined to women, who were employed in domestic work.

• In the age of the Buddha it also included men who were now known as dasakarmakara.

• The addition of the term karmakara shows that they were employed in the various production activities.

• Apart from dasa and karamakara, bhataka (wage earner), ahataka (those who were attached to the masters), and bhritaka (comperatively free labour).

• The bhritakas were comparatively free and A2 to an early jain text there were four kinds of bhritakas:
• divasabhayaga (daily wagers)
• jattabhayaga (engaged for the duration of the journey)
• uchchatta-bhayaga (on contract to complete a work in an agreed time)
• Kabbalabhayaga (earth-digger).

• Two other terms used for wage workers are pessa, and purisa.

• The early pali texts often mention the five despised categories of chandala, nishada, vena (bamboo workers), rathakara and the pukkusa (hunters). They are described as having low families (nicha-kula) or inferior births (hinajati).

• Collectively, the untouchables were known as antyas or bahyas.

• Political History:

• The later vedic phase saw the development of the territorial character of the govt.

• The aitereya brahmana enumerates ten forms of govt prevalent in different parts of the govt.

• The king was associated with the divine elements.

• Taxation system and administrative machinery took firm root.

• A passage from panini shows that people owed allegiance to the janapada or to the territory to
• which they belonged.

• Gave rise to some abortive reaction in favour of the old tribal order, leading to the republican
• experiment.

• Mahajanapadas: 

• Janapada literally mean the place where the people put their feet. However, these were the
• permanent settlements of the later vedic age.

• In the initial phases these settlements were named after the dominant kshatriya clans in that area.
• For example, the areas around delhi and western UP were known as kuru and panchala
• janapadas.

• The incorporation of janapadas by the bigger and powerful rulers of the mahajanapadas led to
• political conflicts between rulers which later resulted in the establishment of the magadhan
• empire.

• This development led to the gradual decline of the power of the gana-rajyas.
• The Buddhist text anguttara nikaya provides a list of 16 mahajanapadas existing during the time of Buddha. These were:

• Kashi kosala anga magadha

• Vajji malla chedi vatsa

• Kuru panchala matsya surasena

• Assaka avanti gandhara kamboja

• Another Buddhist text, the mahavastu, too provides a list of 16 mahajanapadas.

• However, it
• excludes gandhara and kamboja and substitutes them by sibi and dasarna in Punjab and central India respectively.

• The list in the jain text, bhagavati sutra, includes vanga and Malaya.

• Kashi:

• Capital – Varanasi also known as ketumati, surundhana, sudassana, brahmavaddhana, pupphavati, ramma and molini.

• The name Varanasi is derived from the two little streams varana and Asi.

• Kashi was famous for its cotton textiles and market for horses.

• Excavations at the site of Varanasi known as rajghat have not yielded evidence of urbanization in the 6th century BC. It emerged as a major town around 450 BC.

• The name kashi is derived from the orange brown robes of the Buddhist monks called kashaya in
• Sanskrit which was produced in kashi.

• Kashi, kosala and Magadha were constantly at war with each other.

• The early history of kashi begins with the paippalada recension of the atharvaveda which
• mentions the kashis i.e., the people of kashis.

• Jatakas says – “it is clear that tradition does not regard the kashi monarchs as belonging to one
• and the same dynasty. Some of them hailed from magadha whereas many were probably of
• videhan origins”.

• One version of the Rama legend contained in the dasharatha jataka mentions dasharatha, rama etc as kings of kashi and not of ayodhya.

• A large number of rulers of kashi had the cognomen brahmadatta.

• In the gangamala jataka king udaya of Varanasi is addressed by a pachcheka Buddha as brahmadatta which is distinctly stated to be kulanama or family designation.

• Ashvasena, father of tirthamkara (23rd) of the jains, is also believed to have been one of the early kings of kashi.

• The Buddha also delievered his first sermon in sarnath near Varanasi.

• The Upanishads mentions that a prince called ajatashatru and dhritarashta were also kings of kashi.

• Kashi kingdom ultimately became a part of Magadhan Empire.

• Kosala (koshala)

• Situated between gomati (western boundary), sarpika or syandika (southern boundary), sadanira (eastern boundary) and nepala hills (northen boundary).

• Assimilation of many smaller principalities and clans contributed to the prosperity and power of this kingdom.

• Shakyas of kapilavastu was one of them and the imp clan was the kalamas of keshaputta.

• The majjhimea nikaya calls the Buddha as a kosalan.

• Kosala contained three great cities: ayodhya, saketa and shravasti, besides a number of minor towns like setavya and ukkattha.

• Saketa and ayodhya were twin cities probably.

• Shravasti is identified with sahet-mahet on the achiravati or rapti.

• The river sarayu divided this kingdom into Uttara-kosala and dakshina kosala. Shravasti was the capital of uttara kosala and kushavati was the capital of dakshina kosala.

• The clans like hiranyabha, mahakosala, prasenjita and shuddodana as rulers of kosala, who ruled from ayodhya, saketa, kapilavastu and shravasti.

• Towards the end of the 6th century BC pasendi or prasenjita established a unified kosalan monarchy.

• A contemporary of Buddha, prasenjajita was educated at taxila and was able to make kosala a formidable kingdom. He was also responsible for the extinction of kashi as independent
• kingdom.

• Kashi became a major bone of contention between kosala and magadha.

• Anga: 

• Anga was situated to the east of magadha.

• It roughly comprised the modern areas of bhagalapur and munger in bihar.

• At some point of it might have included magadha as well, for vidhura pandita jataka speaks of rajagriha as a city of anga.

• The kathasaritsagara says that vitankapura, a city of the angas, was situated on the shore of the sea.

• Champa, the capital of anga, was situated at the confluence of the river of the same name
• (modern chandan) and the ganga.

• The ancient name of champa was malini.

• The city of champa was built by mahagovinda and in the jataka stories the city is also known as
• kala champa.

• Champa was one of the six great cities of India during the time of Buddha.

• It was noted for its wealth and trading activities. Traders of champa went to suvarnabhumi for business.

• The emigrants of champa to southern annan and cochin china are supposed to have named their settlement after this city.

• Other imp cities in anga included asvapura and bhadrika.

• The Buddha is supposed to have camped on the banks of a tank called gaggala pokharani built by
• queen of anga called gaggara.

• A2 the Mahabharata, anga was so called after its king named anga.

• The earliest reference to anga is found in the atharvaveda and the Ramayana gives the legend regarding the origin of this janapada.

• It is said that madana or ananga, the god of love, having incurred the wrath of shiva fled to this region where he cast off his body (anga).

• Anga has related with many legendary kings such as dhatarattha, dahivahana etc.

• A2 a jain tradition chandana or chandrabala, the daughter of dadhivahana, was the first female to embrace Jainism shortly after mahavira had attained the kaivalya.

• The king of anga had friendly relations with kaushambi.

• Shri harsha speaks of a ruler of anga named dridhavarman who gave his daughter in marriage to udayana and secured his help in regaining his throne from the king of vatsa.

• About the middle of the sixth century BC anga was annexed by Magadha.

• Magadha: 

• Present patna and gaya districts of present bihar.

• It was situated between the ganga (north), son (west), vindhyan range (south) and champa (east).

• Its earliest capital was girivraja (the mountain fort city) or old rajagriha.

• The mahavagga calls it “giribhaja of the magadhas” to distinguish it from the girivraja of kekaya.

• The Mahabharata refers to it as girivraja, rajagriha, barhadratha-pura and magadhapur and states that it was an almost impregnable city being protected by five hills.

• In the Ramayana it is also known as vasumati.

• Hiuen-tsang calls it kushagra-pura while budhgosha provides us with the seventh name bimbisara puri.

• Archaeologically the outer walls of rajagriha represent the earliest evidence of fortification in the post-harappan India.

• The early history of magadha is shrouded in mystry.

• The rigvedic kitaka territory ruled by a chief named pramganda was declared by yaska to be a non-aryan country whereas the puranas identify kitaka with magadha.

• On the basis of brihad-dharma purana kitaka has been identified with the region around gaya.
• Magadha first appeared in atharvaveda and the ‘bards of magadha’ are mentioned in yajurveda.

• However, no king of magadha, except pramaganda, is mentioned in the vedic literature.

• The earliest dynasty of magadha A2 mahabharata and the puranas was founded by brihadratha, the son of vasu chaidya-uparichara and the father of jarasandha.

• The Ramayana makes himself the founder of girivraja or vasumati.

• The brihadratha dynasty came to an end in the sixth century BC.

• Jain writers mention two early kings of rajagriha named samudra-vijaya and gaya. But their dynasty remains uncorroborated.

• The second dynasty was the shaishunaga dynasty founded by shishunaga.

• Although some texts place bimbisara to his family, he is generally accepted as belonging to the haryanka dynasty.

• Bimbisara was the most remarkable king of the haryanka line. He was the son of a petty chieftain bhattiya and was also known as seniya or shrenika.

• Bimbisara was anointed by his father while yet a boy of fifteen. This event took place in 543-544 BC.

• He first began a conciliatory approach towards the king of other janapadas.

• He sent the physician jivaka to the king of avanti who was suffering from jaundice and received an embassy from pushkarasarin, the king of taxila.

• He also pursued a policy of dynastic marriages with the ruling families of madra, kosala, and vaishali.

• Khema, the princess of shakala (madra), is said to have been the chief consort of bimbisara.

• A2 the dhammapada commentary bimbisara and pasendi were connected by marriage, each having married a sister of the other.

Thus bimbisara came to marry four princess of the four formidable states of the period i.e.
1. kosala (kosaladevi)
2. lichchhavi (chellana, the daughter of chetaka)
3. videha (vaidehi vasahi)
4. madra (khema)

through these alliances bimbisara expanded the kingdom both westward and northward.

Now, bimbisara being from major hurdles, invaded anga and annexed it after defeating brahmadatta.
The digha nikaya states that the revenues of the town of champa were bestowed on the brahmana sonadanda.

We learn from the jain sources that from now onwards anga was made a province under the governorship of a royal prince.

Bimbisara’s kosalan wife had brought a kashi village producing a revenue of a hundred thousand for bath and perfume money.

Thus through war and policy ploys bimbisara added anga and a part of kashi to the magadha. The extra resources enabled magadha to expand its dominions further.

A2 mahavagga, bimbisara’s dominions embraced 80,000 townships and the entire kingdom was 300 leagues in extent.

A2 H.C.Raychaudhuri, bimbisara exercised a rigid control over his high officers (rajabhata) who were divided into several classes, viz, sabhatthaka (incharge of general affairs), senanayaka mahamattas (generals), voharika mahamattas (judiciary), and gramabhojaka or gramakuta (village headman).

His name seniya shows that he was the first king to possess a standing army.
In provincial administration a considerable degree of autonomy was allowed.
We hear not only of a sub-king (up-raja) at champa, but of mandalika rajas as well.

Bimbisara is supposed to have convened a great gemote of village headmen (gramikas) of 80,000 large settlements.

He is also credited by hiuen tsang with having built a new capital rajagriha when kusagrapura, the old capital was afficted by fires. This new capital was built on the cemetery.

Fa-hien, however, credits this to ajatashatru.

Bimbisara was a great patron of the Buddha from the very beginning and as a mark of goodwill he presented the bamboo grove (karanda-venu-vana) to the samgha.

However, the uttaradhyayana sutra and other jain texts represent him as a devote of mahavira.

Bimbisara was succeeded by his son ajathashatru, also known as kunika and asokachanda in 493 BC.
Ajathashatru imprisoned his father and starved him to death. This he is supposed to have done at the instigation of devadatta, a cousin of Buddha and his rival to the leadership of the samgha.

He did this even when bimbisara had abdicated the throne in his favour.

Confessing his guilt to the Buddha he is stated to have said, “for the sake of the kingdom he diprived his righteous father of his life”.

The Buddha felt impressed and told him “go and no sin more” (Samajnaphala sutta).

Ajatashatru’s visit to the Buddha is also depicted in one of bharhut scruptures of about the middle of the second century BC. However, A2 a jain tradition, bimbisara had poisoned himself to save himself from further humiliation.

Ajatashatru was not the only son of bimbisara, bimbisara seems to have sought the assistance of other sons too, in the affairs of the state. One of these, abhaya, a son of padmavati of ujjain or of nanda, helped his father to foil the machinations of pradyota.

Other children, recorded by tradition, were vimala kondajna by ambapali; halla and vehalla by chellana; kala, shilavat, jayasena and a daughter chundi by other wives.

Ajatashatru, interestingly is styled as devanupiya in the aupapatia sutra.

The manner of her husband’s death gave such a shock to kosaladevi that she too died of grief.

Pasenadi immediately revoked the grant of kashi and confiscated its revenues. This resulted bitter hostailities between him and ajatashatru. The prolonged war and a series of battles resulted in a settlement A2 which ajatashatru got not only the disputed town kashi but also the hand of prasenadi’s daughter, vajira.

A2SS, kosala was annexed to Magadha after the death of pasenadi or prasenjita.

The next imp event in ajatashatru’s reign was his conflict with the lichchavis. We have many traditions regarding the cause of the conflict.

First is the chetaka’s refusal to surrender halla and vehalla, who had taken refuse in vaishali with certain prized objects – the famous elephant seyanaga and a large necklace of eighteen strings of jewels. This was on the instigation of his wife paumavati (padmavati).

The second is an alleged treachery on the part of the lichchavis concerning a mine of gems or some fragrant material near a port on the ganges, over which ajatashatru and the lichchavis exercised a condominium.

The lichchavis headed the confederacy of the vajjis and were quite powerful. Ajatashatru took all possible precautions to ensure victory. He sent his ministers, Sunidha and Vassakara, to sow the seeds of dissensions among the lichchavi chiefs. It seems the rulers of kachi-kosala had helped the lichchavis.

Ajatashatru is said to have used mahashilakantaka and rathamusala.

Mahashilakantaka was some kind of war engine which catapulated big stones and Rathamusala was a kind of chariot to which a mace was attached and which, running about, effected large casualities.
The protracted war ended in favour of ajatashatru and the lichchavi territory became a part of magadha. It is stated that the protracted struggle might have lasted for 60 years.

It was during the reign of ajatashatru that three of the great teachers entered nirvana: 
1. The Buddha.
2. Mahavira
3. Gosala maskariputra.

A2 Pali works, ajatashatru’s reign lasted for 32 yrs.

The Jain works testify that he was a follower of mahavira whereas the Buddhist texts proclaim him to be a Bauddha.

Ajatashatru also claimed a share of the Buddha’s relics and enshrined a stupa.

Ajatashatru was succeeded by his son Udayin or udayibhadra in 459 BC.

The puranas however proclaim darbshak to be his immediate successor, whose historicity is proved by the svapnavasavadattam of bhasa.

Scholars believe that the puranas have wrongly mentioned him and identify him with naga-dasaka, the last ruler of the line of bimbisara.

Jain traditions also represent udayin as the son and successor of ajatashatru.

Before becoming king, udayin acted as his father’s viceroy at champa.

He had probably to fight with the king of avanti, but the most notable event of his reign was the foundation of the city of kusumapura or pataliputra on a spot where his father had, through ministers, built a fort to ward off an expected attack by pradyota of avanti.

It was strategically located on the confluence of the son(hiranyavaha or erannobaos of arraign) and ganga and was thus better suited to serve as the capital of a growing kingdom.

The history of magadha after udayin is confused.

The puranas place nandivardhana and mahanandin as successors of udayin.

The Ceylonese chronicles mention anuruddha, munda and naga-dasaka as successors.

However, the anguttara nikaya alludes to only munda, king of pataliputra.

The Ceylonese chronicles also states that all the kings from ajatashatru to naga-dasaka were parricides.

The citizens drove out the family in anger and raised an amtya to the throne. This king was shisunaga.

Puranas, on the other hand, mention that mahanandin had a son named mahapadma or mahapadmapati nanda by a shudra women, with whom began a line of shudra or semi-shudra kings.
Shisunaga, before being king, was perhaps the viceroy at varanasi.

The most imp achievement of shisunaga was the destruction of the power of the pradyota dynasty of avanti.

Shishunaga’s successor, kalashoka or kakavarna transferred his royal residence permanenly from girivraja to pataliputra, through vaishali also sometimes acted as a capital.

It was at vaishali where the second great council of Buddhists is said to have been held in the tenth year of the king’s reign when a century had elapsed since the death of the Buddha.

The death of kakavarna was tragic. Banabhatta reports that kakavarna shaisunagi had a dagger thrust into his throat in the vicinity of his city. This legend is confirmed by greek evidence.

About the middle of the fourth century BC, the shisunaga dynasty was overthrown by a person named mahapadma who established a new line of kings known as nandas. Pali texts mentions him as ugrasena.

The name mahapadma perhaps indicate that his army was as big as could be arranged in the lotus fashion (padmavyuha).

He is also known as mahapadmapati i.e., possessing wealth amounting to a padma.
The puranas describe him as a son of the last kshatrabandhu king of the preceding line by a shudra mother.

A jain text represents nanda as the son of a courtesan by a barber.

The greek writer curtius says that his (Agrammes) father was a barber who had won the queen’s heart and subsequently assassinated the reigning king and under then, under the pretence of acting as guardian to the royal princes, usurped the throne.

The puranas call mahapadma the destroyer of all the kshatriyas and the sole monarch (ekrata). He seems to have overthrown all the dynasties which ruled at the time of shaisunagas viz., the ikshvakus, panchalas, kashis, haihayas, kalingas, ashmakas, kurus, maithilas, shurasenas, vitihotras etc.

A reference to the excavation of a canal by nandaraja in the hathigumpha ins shows that the kalinga had also come under his domination. From this very ins we learn that mahapadma was probably a jain.

The nanda kings had jain ministers lke kalapaka and shakatala.

A vast mass of land came under the political sway of the nandas.

Several mysore ins’s state that kuntala (S.MH and north of mysore) was ruled by the nandas.

The existence on the godavari of a city called nau nanda dehra (nander) also suggests that the nanda dominions may have embraced a considerable portion of the deccan.

The matsya purana assigns 88 yrs to the reign of the first nanda which seems to be a mistake for 28 as the vayu purana assigns only 28 yrs. This king was succeeded by his eight sons.

These were panduka, pandugati, bhutapala, rashtrapala, govishanaka, dashasiddhaka, kaivarta and dhana.


The last king dhana is possibly identical with the agrammes on Xandrames of the classical writers.
This king, A2 Curtius, owned a vast wealth and commanded a huge army of 20,000 cavalry, 200,000 infantry, 2000 chariots and 3000 elephants.

One of his generals is known as baddasala. He is also credited with invention of a particular measure known as nandopakramani to panini.

This dynasty came to an end about 322-21 BC and was supplated by another dynasty known as mauryas, with CGM as the founder.

Causes for magadhan supremacy:

Magadha was the first empire in the ancient india.

The mighty ganga, gandak and ghaghra on the north and son in the south served as means for defence as well as communication with upper India and the sea.

The older capital rajagriha was surrounded by 5 hills and fortified quite early with cyclopean outer walls twenty five miles in length, and the later and the most famous capital pataliputra at the junction of the ganges and the son were both well protected against outside invasions.

Natural resourses are favourable for magadha. 
The neighbouring dense forest provide both for timber for houses and bridges and elephants for army. The control of areas of south bihar (now jharkhand) which had iron ores in abundance made magadha the nerve centre of economic and political activities. The iron tools were used to clear the land systematically and to bring them under cultivation. Iron was used for making better and sturdier implements and weapons.

The most imp factor was the social readiness of the people necessitated by some basic changes in the economy and social structure and the absence of a conservative strangehold of the brahmanas on the prople.

Even small independent artisans and peasants suffered from the earlier warfares which were regularly preceded by vedic sacrifices.

The traders needed safe trade routes free from robbers. A part of such needs could be satisfied only by the growth of universal monarchy i.e. a single state that would end the pretty warfare and police the entire countryside.

The situation was fully exploited by Bimbisara and the ‘magadhan militant’ ajatashatru who put magadha on the imperial path.

Vajji or vrijji: 
This territory lay on the north of the ganga and extended upto the hills of Nepal in the north.
It was separated from kosala and malla by the river gandak. On the eastern side it reached upto koshi and mahananda.

The vajjian confederacy consisted of eight clans of which the videhas, the lichchavis, the jnatrikas and vrijjis (literally pastoral nomads) were the most imp ones. The identities of the rest of the clans are not known.

In contemporary literature sarthavahas are also called vaidehikas i.e. men of the videha tribe. This shows that the profession of trade originated from a particular tirbe guild.

On the evidence of the sutrakritanga and the anguttara nikaya, it has been suggested that ugras, bhogas, aikshvakas and kauravas were other four clans in the confederacy.

The videhas had their capital at mithila identified with janakapura, and the lichchavis had their capital at vaishali. This was also the administrative centre of the confederacy.

Vaishali is identified with the city called vishala in the Ramayana.

Vaishali was encompassed by three walls, each standing a league distant from the other with three gates and watchtowers.

The jnatrikas, to whom belonged mahavira, had their seat of power at kundapura, or kundagrama and kollaga, suburbs of vaishali. Though living in the suburbs, mahavira and his clansmen were known as vesali i.e. inhabitants of vaishali.

The lichchavis formed a confederacy with 9 mallas and 18 gana-rajyas of kashi-kosala against magadha.

A2 a tradition the vaishalians attacked magadha during bimbisara’s reing. This resuled in the matrimonial alliance between the lichchavi clan and bimbisara. However, later ajatashatru destroyed this confederacy.

The lichchavis do not seem to have possessed a standing army or a system of revenue collection from agriculture. However, they had a governing body consisting of 7,707 rajas with as many uparajas, senapathis, and bhandagarikas i.e. treasurers. All of them formed part of the general assembly sabha, which met at santhagara.

The executive functions were performed by a smaller body of eight known as ashtakula, perhaps one member from each clan (kula).

Mallas 
There were many branches of this clan of which two had their headquartes at kusinara and pava.
The localities of the two main groups known as malla-rattha or mallarashtra in the Mahabharata were separated by the river kakuttha, the cacouthes of the classical writers.

In a text it is stated that the sala grove of the mallas, the upavattana (outskirt) of kusinara, lay near the river hirnayavati.

A large stupa behind the nirvana temple near kasia with an inscribed copper-plate bearing the words “parinirvana-chatiye tamrapatta iti” establishes the identification.

It is held that like videha, mallas were a monarchy and during monarchy their metropolis was a great city and was known as kusavati. Other imp cities were anupiya and uruvelakappa.

The mallas are supposed to have been ruled by five hundred rulers or elders.

The mallas were ultimately were the victims of the imperial arms of magadha.

The Buddha died in the vicinity of kusinara and his last rites were performed by the mallas.

The mallas of pava are said to have built a sangharama which was inaugurated by the Buddha himself.

Buddhism owes to the mallas some of its greates personalities viz. anand, upali, anuruddha, devadatta and khanda-sumana.

Chedi
Situated along the south bank of the yamuna from the chambal on the northwest to as far as karvi on the south-east.

Its capital was known as sotthivatinagar or shuktimati or shukti-sahvaya.

Other imp towns were sahajati and tripuri.

The chetiya jataka traces the descent of chedi kings from mahasammata and mandhata.

Upachara, a king of the line, had five sons who are said to have founded the cities of hatthipura (hastinapura), assapura (in anga), ainhapura (lala from where vijaya went to Ceylon), uttarapanchala (ahichchhatra) and daddarapura (in the himaliyan region).

Shishupala, the legendary enemy of Krishna, was a chedi king.

Vatsa
Situated along the banks of the yamuna, the state of vatsa had its capital at kaushambi or kosam near Allahabad.

It is stated in the puranas that when hastinapura was washed way by the ganga, nichakshu, the great grandson of janamejaya, abandoned it and shifted his capital to kaushambi.

The most famous king of vatsa kingdom was udayana, who was the contemporary of Buddha, pradyota of avanti and bimbisara and ajatashatru of magadha.

Before udayana we have some allusions to other kings of chedi such as shatankika II or parantapa, who was married to a princess of videha ad is also said to have attacked champa, the capital of anga during the reign of dadhivahana.

Udayana or vaidehiputra was his son. Initially an oppressor of Buddhism, udayana become an ardent follower on the advice of pindola.

Udayana had a son called bodhi.

The dramatist bhasa made udayana the subject matter of his plays. These plays are based on the story of romance between udayana and vasavadatta, the princess of avanti.

Kuru
The ruling dynasty, A2 the pali texts, belonged to the yudhishthira gotra i.e., the family of yudhisthira.

Its capital at indapatta or indapattana i.e, indraprastha.

It contained many other cities and nigamas such as hatthinipura, thullakothita, kammassadamma, kundi and varanavata.

The jatakas mention kuru kings styled dhananjaya koravya, koravya and sutasoma whose historicity is doubtful.

The arthashastra refers to them as rajashabdopjivin i.e., having titles of kings.

The famous pandavas and kauravas who fought the great bharata war belonged to the kuru clan.
Panchala

It appears to have been bounded on the east by the gomati and chambal on the south.

In the jatakas we have the uttara-panchala and dakshina-panchala.

Samhitopanishad brahmana mentions the prachya panchalas i.e., eastern panchalas.

One of the early capitals of panchala was kampilya identified with kampil.

Another panchala town was parivakra or parichakra.

The northern panchalas had ahichchatra or chhatravati as capital.

The panchalas consisted of five clans – the krivis, the turvashas, the keshins, the srinyayas and the somakas.

The two panchala territories were divided by the river bhagiratha.

The kurus and panchalas struggled for the possession of uttara panchala region.

The history of panchala from the death of pravahana jaivala or jaivali to the time of bimbisara is obscure.

Evidence of few kings such as durmukha, chulani brahmadatta, sanjaya etc.

The Ramayana connects the early panchala rulers with the foundation of the famous city of kanyakubja (city of the hump-backed maiden) or kanauj.

The panchalas had in the 6th century established a samgha form of govt of the rajashabdopajivin type.

Matsya
Its capital is vitatanagara in whose court the five pandava brothers stayed.

The matsya region was bounded by kurus in south, shurasenas on the west, chambal on the south and saravasti on the west.

The Mahabharata mentions apara-matsyas and vira-matsyas.

Upalavya was another town of the matsyas.

The matsya first appear in the rigveda.

The shatapata brahmana mentions a matsya king named dhvasana dvaivatavana.

In the manu-samhita the matsyas together with kuru-kshetra, the panchalas and the shurasenakas comprise the “holy enclave of the brahmana sages” (brahmarshi-desha).

At one time the matsya kingdom was annexed to the neighbouring kingdom of chedi. The kingdom was finally absorbed in the magadhan empire.

Some of the most famous edicts of asoka have been found at bairat.

Shurasena
The shurasena had its capital at mathura.

The greek writers refer to the sourasenoi and their cities methora and cleisobora.

A highway connected the city of mathura with a place called veranja which was linked up with shravasti and the caravan route that passed from taxila to varanasi through soreyya, sankassa (sankasya), kannakujja (kanauj) and payaga-paitthana (Allahabad).

In the Mahabharata and the puranas the ruling family of mathura is given as yadus.

The yadu or yadava tribe was divided into vitihotras and satavatas.

The satvatas were sub-divided into andhaka, vrishni, mahabhojas, daivavriddhas etc.

The epic hero Krishna belonged to the vrishni clan of the satvatas.

A branch of the satavatas migrated to south and were ruling as the bhoja kings.

It is said that several southern states like mahishmati, vidharba etc., were founded by the princes of yadu clan.

 In the arthashastra the vrishnis are described as a samgha.

The Mahabharata too mentions vrishnis, andhakas and other associated tribes as a samgha and vasudeva, the vrishni prince, as samghamukhya (chief of the confederacy).

A unique coin belonging to the vrishni gana has also been found.

The Buddhist text refer to avantiputra, king of shurasenas, in the time of the mahakachchana, one of the chief disciples of the Buddha, responsible for Buddhist expansion in the mathura region.

The shurasenas continued to be imp till the time of megasthenes, as an integral part of the mauryan empire.

Assaka (ashmaka)
Situated on the banks of the godavari with its capital at potali, potana or podana identified with bodhan.

Assaka also included mulaka (area around paithan known in ancient times at pratishthana).

The ashmaka and mulaka belonged to the ikshvaku family and the royal sage ashmaka is said to have founded the city of podana.

One of the rulers was brahmadatta.

The assaka jataka mentions that the city of potali was included in the kingdom f kashi.
A king of assaka named aruna with the help of his minister nandisena recorded a victory over the king of kalinga.

Avanti: 
The janapada was divided into two parts by the vindhyas, the northern part drained by shipra had its capital at ujjain and the southern part had its centre at mahisatti or mahishmati.

Some other cities of the region were kuraragraha, makkarakata and sudarshanapura.

The puranas attribute the foundation of avanti to one of the clans of the yadus known as haihaya.
The haihayas are said to have overthrown the nagas who were the aboriginal inhabitants of the narmada region.

The haithiyas were divided into five branches: 
Vitihotras, bhojas, avantis, kundikeras or tundikeras and the talajanghas.

In the 6th century BC a powerful king kamed pradyota was ruling over avanti.

In the 4th century BC avanti became a part of magadhan empire.

Ajatashatru had fortified his capital rajagriha out of fear of pradyota.

Pradyota has been described as chanda (cruel) in the puranas.

He was followed by four kings, the last being nandivardhana who was defeated by shisunaga of magadha.

Gandhara
Gandhara had its capital at takshashila which was both a centre of trade and learning.

Another famous city of this kingdom was pushkaravati founded by pushkara.

Takshashila was founded by another prince named taksha. The remains of this city have been found near sarai-khola. It was build three times, the first represented by bhir-mound which was the earliest settlement.

Later settlements are known as sisukha and sirkap.

Pushkaravati, the lotus city, is represented by the modern prang and charshada.

Gandhara region was famous for its wool industry from the very beginning. It also became a country of learned men. We hear that personalities like uddalaka, shvetaketu and kautilya were educated there.

Panini, a native of gandhara, refers to takshashila in one of the sutras.

In the middle of the sixth century BC the throne of gandhara was occupied by one pukkusati (pushkarasarin), who is said to have sent an embassy and a letter to the king bimbisara, and waged war on pradyota of avanti who was defeated.

In the later half of the sixth century BC gandhara was conquered by the king of Persia.
In the bahistan ins of darius, 520-518 BC, the gandharians(gadara) appear among the subject peoples of the achaemenian empire.

Kambhoja
The Mahabharata connects the kambojas with a place called rajapura which was mentoned by hieun tsang which lay to the south or south-east of punch.

The western borders of kambhoja reached kafiristan.

Elphinston found in that region tribes like the ‘caumojee’, ‘camoze’ and ‘camoje’ whose names remind us of the kambojas.

Apart from rajapura, we have evidence of another city called nandinagara situated in the kamboja territory.

In the Mahabharata, the kambhojas are represented as living under a monarchial system and mentions chandravaraman and sudakshina as kings. In later times the monarchy gave place to a samgha form of govt.

The arthashastra calls them varta-shastropajivin samgha i.e., a confederation of agriculturalists, herdsmen, traders and warriors. 

Corporations of kambojas (kambojagana) also find mention in the Mahabharata.

Monarchies and Republics

At the time of Buddha we have two kinds of state systems: monarchial and republican.

We have four most monarchies in the form of vatsa, avanti, kosala and magadha, where as the rest were gandhara types.

Some of them joined together to become confederaies and other remained autonomous.

The single republican tribes were the shakyas, kalingas, mallas, bhaggas, morays, bulis, kalams etc.
The vrijjis and yadus were confederacy of tribes.

Some of the republics changed over to monarchies whereas kamboja changed from a monarchy to a republic.

During the later vedic period we have evidence of many types of kingdom such as bhaujya (paramount rule), svarajya (self-rule), vairajya (anointed for sovereignty), samrajya (empire), rajya (kingdom) etc.

Accordingly, there were various kinds of kings: samrat, virat, svarat, ekrata and sura-rajya.
The kingship in the republics was not supposed to be hereditary. The chief was usually elected and was known as mahasammata, the great elect.

No standing army for republics. The income of republics also very low.

Brahmanas had no place in the early republics nor did they recongnize these states in their law-books.

The republican tradition became weak from maurya period onwards.

Administration in the monarchies
the most imp feature of the administrative machinery was the rise of a class of officials known as mahamatras.

General affairs – sarvarthaka
Justice – vyavaharika
Army – sena nayaka
Work of cadastral survey or measurement of the king’s share in the produce – rajjugahakas
Chief accountant – ganaka

The chariots were drawn by horses or wild asses and carried six men, of whom two were bowmen, two were shield bearers and two were charioteers.

Bhaga was the most imp source of state revenue which gave the king an epithet known as shadabhagin.

Grama-bhojaka was the most imp revenue collecting authority.

Toll officer – shaulikika in the dharmasutras and shulkadhyaksha in the pali texts.

FACTORS IN THE RISE AND EXPANSION OF BUDDHISM
1. the use of iron axe, share, sickle led to the clearance of jungles, foundation of larger settlements, and introduction of new agricultural techniques.

2. confrontation between the social and material culture of the people.

3. rejection of animal sacrifice and emphasis on non-injury.

4. agriculture, based on use of iron implements prepared ground for the rise of urban settlements around 600 BC; the inhabitants of magadha and anga mahajanapadas were in contemp because they traded in certain articles. Baudayana, an early law giver, ascribes mixed origin to the people of magadha and anga and declares them to be guilty of drinking liqor, trading in wool, in animals such as horses, and in arms and of going to the sea. First lay converts to Buddhism were recruited from the trading class. Tapassua and bhallika from utkala are said to have been the first lay disciples and they are called traders (vanijya). The liberal donations of anathapindika and other lay merchants follower of Buddha and his order can be better understood if we bear in mind the brahmanical attitude towards trade.

5. the conept of debt is found in the vedic texts, but the concept of interest has not been recorded clearly. Apastamba lays down that the brahmanas should not accept the food of a person who charges interest (vardhusikah). The Buddha held the ideal trader or the shopkeeper as a model for the monk of the samgha.

6. the urban set-up in the age of Buddha gave rise to certain features of town life which did not favour with the brahmanical outlook conditioned by a simple agricultural society.

7. the use of weapons made of iron revolutionized military equipment and added to the political imp of the warriors. The Buddhist texts accord the first place to the kshatriyas and second place to the brahmanas.

8. Buddhism suggests remedies for poverty.

9. since Buddhist teachings were propagated by puritan monks, they made a great impact on the common people.

10. the Buddha had to provide solutions to immediate problems. He avoided alienating his dominat supporters (the kings and gahapatis). He banned his followers from living on an income derieved from slave trade.

11. the Buddha endorsed the state. The organization of the samgha borrowed its form from the gana-samgha system contrasted with the monarchy and with an identity of its own. The first council was appropriately held at rajagriha, the capital of a powerful kingdom with its king ajatashatru extending his patronage. The breakaway group of the vajjiputtaka monks was established at the council at vaishali, the capital of vrijjis. The Theravada sect is associated with the mauryan state and later the sarvastivada sect linked itself with kushana state. The Buddhist samgha supporting the state system was useful to early states in that it provided an ideological framework for the integration of diverse group.

12. the Buddha preached in the language of the masses.

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